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"We learned so much in just our first meeting! Thanks for all you do." Large charter school client

Our Team

Nancy Close

Chief Executive Officer


Nancy's heart and soul are in the food world, and she planted her roots down deep at an early age. Her parents started and ran Caravan Serai, the first Afghan restaurant in the United States, and Nancy grew up in the business. She saw from an early age how the warmth and graciousness of the Afghan culture, combined with delicious food, created a powerful experience for customers.

As a young adult she struck out on her own, moved to California and began her journey in the corporate food world, including a stint with Red Robin International. When her parents were ready to sell their restaurant in 1986, she moved back to Minnesota and took the reins from their hands. In the 17 years she owned Caravan Serai, the restaurant received numerous awards for her food and service.

In 1990 she started catering out of the restaurant for her brother's daycare business. Soon, other schools expressed interest in her food and CKC Good Food was born. By 2002 Nancy had closed the restaurant and was expanding CKC. Her passion for 'good food' meant the company devoted itself to creating food that was both delicious and nutritious for kids. CKC is now one of the leading school catering companies in the nation.

Nancy was chosen a 2014 Women in Business honoree by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. She also was recognized with an honorable mention in the Homegrown Hero Awards from the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council in 2013.

Laurie Yohn, SNS

General Manager


As former foodservice manager, Laurie trains schools on food safety guidelines and regulations, and service and reporting procedures; and helps prepare them for compliance reviews. She has been in the foodservice industry since 2000, working 13 years specifically in school foodservice positions managing student populations of up to 2,300 students. She is a certified School Nutrition Specialist, a ServSafe Registered Proctor, and a Registered Dietetic Technician. She has also earned her Minnesota food manager certificate. She has an associate’s degree in applied science as a dietetic technician.

Matt Anderson

Director of Operations


Matt has been with CKC since August 2014, starting as our warehouse operations manager and inventory control specialist, and then moving into the operations director position. He serves as a key member of the company’s supervisory team that evaluates company operations and procedures for greater efficiency and customer satisfaction. From May 2015 through summer of 2016, Matt served as field operations manager while our field operations manager was deployed in Kuwait with the Army Reserves.

Steve Schnaser

Director of Administration


Steve has been a member of the CKC Good Food team since 2002, and is now the company's assistant general manager. In that role, he's responsible for overall food preparation and service, offsite kitchen services, and the company's technology footprint. Steve joined CKC as a kitchen manager, responsible for the proper ordering, preparation, cooking and service of lunches at CKC satellite kitchens. He's been awarded SafeServe and certified food manager certifications, complementing his bachelor's degree in Spanish. In addition, Steve has over six years of experience in sales and two with computer hardware and networking. His combined skills help him accomplish a multitude of daily tasks with CKC.

Debbie Baker, RD

Registered Dietitian

As the Registered Dietitian for CKC Good Food, Debbie’s responsibilities include analyzing all menu items and recipes for nutritional content. This includes making sure recipes follow the nutrition guidelines in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Debbie earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Keene State College in Keene, NH. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis. Prior to starting at CKC Debbie had 20 years’ experience working as a clinical dietitian in hospitals and nursing homes plus 5 years in public health. In her spare time, Debbie enjoys making quilts for those near and dear to her.

Barb Lackner, MS



As a dietitian for CKC Good Food, Barb helps ensure our menus comply with federal regulations and that we purchase quality ingredients to fit within our menus. Prior to joining CKC in 2009, Barb worked for many years as a food service director for the South St. Paul and Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school districts. When she’s not counting calories, Barb enjoys gardening, reading, and talking about current events. She says her children are her biggest influence, since she “learns something from them every day."

David Kayoum

Dir of Business Development / Field Operations Mgr


David brings a strong background in finance, purchasing and CKC operations to help the company deliver the best quality food to its clients every day. David inspired the founding of CKC when he asked Nancy to help create meals for his daycare business. He has also played a major role in the growth of the CKC breakfast program. With over 24 years in sales and finance and 10 years of experience in foodservice, and several working for CKC, David brings a broad range of experience to his current role. David has his food manager certification.

Jim Leahy

Dir of Business Development / Field Operations Mgr


As director of business development, Jim raises the awareness of CKC Good Food with prospective client schools and communicates the superior value the company provides to those schools. He also serves as a field operations manager, ensuring the foodservice programs at our client schools run smoothly. In addition to his more than 13 years of sales experience, Jim has worked in various roles at CKC, allowing him to gain valuable experience in the overall operation of the company.

Katie Kretsch

Controller & Director of Human Resources


As financial controller and human resources director, Katie oversees the details that keep our company running smoothly. She works closely with benefits administration, insurance, and safety as well as regulating the company finances through budget creation, cash flow analysis, and general accounting. Katie has a bachelor’s degree from Hamline University in political science public service/philosophy, with a minor in history.

Nick Johannes

IT Manager


Drawing on 10+ years of experience at a variety of restaurants and foodservice companies, Nick oversees CKC’s daily logistics. His acute focus on customer service and masterful organizational skills help him juggle the many demands and details that arise as meals go out the door each day from CKC’s central kitchen. Prior to CKC, Nick worked for Grand Central restaurant in St. Paul, the Mediterranean Café in Colorado Springs, Colo., as well as a country club, the Mayo clinic, a casino and an upscale catering company.

Eldon Brustuen

Sales & Marketing Consultant


Eldon Brustuen has spent most of his career helping small to medium-sized companies grow their businesses internationally as well as domestically. He has co-founded a number of private companies as well as the Minnesota Trade Office, where he served as director of international trade. He has also served on a number of diverse business, governmental, and nonprofit boards. With a BA in social psychology from St. Olaf College and an MBA in marketing from the University of St. Thomas, Eldon’s leadership focuses on developing an organization’s infrastructure as well as on successfully developing their sales & marketing results. Eldon’s current focus is helping CKC expand its leadership role as the region’s premier school foodservice provider.

Tom McEllistrem

Corporate Counsel


Tom McEllistrem is corporate counsel for CKC, and is a partner of Collins, Buckley, Sauntry & Haugh, PLLP, one of St. Paul’s oldest and most respected law firms. He practices in corporate and business law, as well as commercial and general litigation matters. Tom has an MBA in finance, and extensive experience in finance, sales, decision sciences, and management, ranging from small to very large corporations. He is one of Minnesota’s leading experts in establishing and running advisory boards. Tom's passion is helping companies identify and implement best practices - which inexorably lead to superior performance and industry excellence.